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CONCORDE  IN BARBADOS


A retired British Airways’ Concorde, the Anglo-French needle-nosed supersonic jet plane, is now being displayed at a specially designed museum near the Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown, Barbados.


British Airways announced in April, 2003 that it would take all its seven  Concordes out of service and retire each of them to separate locations in Britain, the United States and Barbados. Although they were capable of a top speed of 2170kph, and carried celebrities and business high-flyers between London and New York in three and a half hours, they were uneconomical to operate.


The Concorde now in Barbados made its maiden flight on 17th March 1977, flew 23,376 hrs, made 8,383 landings, its last being on Nov 17th 2003.


Barbados was chosen after BA took into consideration several criteria including the host country’s ability to properly exhibit and preserve the aircraft, geographical location and accessibility to the public.


The Concorde Exhibit



LITTLE ENGLAND


Barbados had for long proudly regarded itself as "Little England." That approach has gradually changed over the years. However, there are still many evidences of the orientation of Barbados toward England.


 The heart of the capital, Bridgetown, was until recently known as Trafalgar Square, and was dominated by a statue of Lord Horatio Nelson. Its parliament building is decorated by stained glass windows depicting British monarchs from King James I to Queen Victoria. On the island you can find places called Worthing, Hastings, Clapham and Highgate. Some people still eat Yorkshire pudding and drink high tea there.


No wonder. Barbados remained a British colony for 350 unbroken years, starting 1627 - the only English-speaking Caribbean country not to have changed masters during is colonial history.


It has been reported that Grantley Adams, the leader of the Barbados Labour Party at that time, sent a telegram to England's King George VI during World War II: ‘Go on, England, Little England is behind you.’



CROP OVER


Crop Over (also Cropover or Crop-over), which lasts approximately 5 weeks starting in July, is the most popular festival in Barbados.  The cultural diversity of the island is showcased throughout the festival in street parades, all-night parties, exhibitions, concerts, and street markets. 


A number of elements come together in Crop Over:  Calypso, tuk, ring bang and steel pan, landship and stilt walkers. Add friendly people, color, and good weather and you’ve got what has been called “more than a carnival, sweet fuh days.” 


This folk tradition had its beginnings in the 1787 when Barbados was a large sugar producer. Every year, plantation managers  would organize a one-day end-of-crop fete for the slaves on the sugar plantations. Trevor Marshall, the Barbadian social historian calls it their “Christmas in August.” The sugar crop was over and it was time to celebrate a successful harvest. Planters joined the slaves that day in games and dancing.


Crop-over celebration declined over the years. There was a revival in 1974 however, and since then it has grown steadily in popularity, attracting thousands of new and repeat visitors annually. Crop-over was reintroduced in its present form by the Barbados Tourist Board in order to attract tourists in what was the mid-summer off-season. It kept evolving.  The Calypso King competition was established in 1978, the Road March title in 1979. Today it is run by the National Cultural Foundation.


The festival begins with the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes. In this ceremony, the harvest is officially pronounced closed and the King and Queen of the Festival - the most productive male and female cane cutters of the season – are crowned. 


Throughout crop-over there are all-night parties. They may start with after-work limes and become full blown fetes or “bashments” by 11:30 pm, lasting until dawn the next day. 


At the Cohobblopot, costume bands show off their dazzling and elaborate costumes, to the sounds of the latest local calypso hits, while competing for prizes and the titles of King and Queen of the Festival. The most popular calypsonians and bands also perform to packed audiences. ( Cohobblopot, also known as pepperpot, is a spicy meat and okra Barbadian stew). 


Calypsonians are organized into "tents" sponsored by Barbados businesses. The calpysonians, comedians and other entertainers showcase the latest compositions, which may be simply party hits but may include commentary on current local and regional happenings. 


Calypsonians compete for several prizes and titles, including the Party Monarch, the Road March Monarch and the Pic-O-De-Crop Monarch. The semi-finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition are held at the East Coast Road, where the calypsonians perform on a stage. The finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition are held at the National Stadium, and are followed by the Fore-Day Morning Jump-Up!


There are also folk concerts and art and photographic exhibitions. There is also the Saturday and Sunday Bridgetown Market - a large, street fair at which one can buy local food and beverages, and local arts to a background of  calypso music and live tuk bands. 


Kadooment Day is the last day and grand climax of the festival. Large bands with members dressed in elaborate costumes to depict various themes are on parade. The judges watch them go by to calypso music and make their decisions.  


The 'burning of Mr Harding' used to be the final act at the end of Kadooment Day but it was discontinued in the nineties. The towering “Mr Harding,”  a 20-foot planter figure made of straw and rags, and dressed in coat and hat was set afire. He was a symbol the negatives in the lives of the slaves, including slavery and oppression. To the planter the exercise represented the end of hard times and anticipation of future profits. The “burning of Mr Harding” was followed by fireworks. This was all stopped, however, because the authorities feared that there were elements among the revelers who might not act responsibly.


CONKIES


Conkies are cakes of sweet (sometimes savory) blends of cornmeal, pumpkin, sweet potato, coconut, raisins and spices, steamed in pieces of banana leaf. The conkie is sometimes called “dunkanoo” or “duckanoo” or "dokunu."


Conkies are also popular in Guyana. 


 

PRESIDENT GEORGE WASHINGTON GOT HIS POCKMARKS IN BARBADOS.


On November 3, 1751 George Washington (later to become President of the United States) and his brother Lawrence arrived in  Barbados from their family home in Virginia. They stayed for seven weeks in a house they rented from a British army officer, Captain Croftan, then Commander of James Fort. It was Washington's first and only visit outside the United States. For Washington, then 19 years old, Bridgetown was a large city, the largest he had seen so far.

George's older half-brother Lawrence was very ill with tuberculosis. George accompanied Lawrence to Barbados as the island had a high reputation as a healthful place where people suffering from lung and respiratory ailments could be restored to good health. Unfortunately, however, Lawrence did not recover. When it became evident that he would not last, they started back home on December 22. Lawrence died on the way back. George, on the other hand, contracted small pox in Barbados and this left him marked for life. It probably also saved his life, as during the War of Independence he was immune to the small pox that killed many of his men.

The house in which George Washington stayed is now vested in the National Trust of Barbados and is now called the George Washington House. A two-story 17th century plantation house just outside Bridgetown, it is being restored and is already an important tourist stop for those visiting Barbados.


George Washington House

The House Preserved


WRECK DIVING 


Diving to observe underwater shipwrecks and the creatures that live in or near the wrecks is growing in popularity; and Barbados offers many exciting opportunities. Carlisle Bay is one site regarded as an ideal dive location. Among the numerous wrecks there, divers can look for tropical fish, eels, frog fish, seahorses and other sea creatures.  The SS Stavronikita,  a 365-foot Greek freighter that was deliberately sunk to form an artificial reef, lies in 120ft of water with the stern at 100ft and the bow at 70ft. It is home to a variety of fish and corals. There is also Friars Crag, a 100-foot Dutch freighter that sank in 1984 and lying in 55ft of water. All of these wrecks, and others, are available to enterprising divers.


THE STREET THAT NEVER SLEEPS


That’s how some people refer to Baxter’s Road in Bridgetown. At any hour of day or night it is possible to get something to eat there. All the Barbadian delicacies are available on Baxter's Road, a lot of it from streetside vendors: fried fish, pudding, souse, peas and rice, jug-jug ( a Christmas favorite made mainly of green or dried peas and guinea corn), boiled corn …. You name it. Most of the time purchases are made to loud calypso or reggae music.


REMEMBRANCE DAY


In Barbados, Remembrance Day is observed with the holding of an inter-denominational service at the War Memorial at National Heroes Square (formerly Trafalgar Square). Members of a number of uniformed groups including the Barbados Defense Force and the Barbados Cadet Corps are usually on parade. At the conclusion of the Two Minutes Silence and the Sounding of the Last Post, the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and other specially invited guests including members of the Diplomatic Corps lay wreaths at the Cenotaph. Private individuals, including Relatives of those who died during the two World Wars, also lay wreaths at the conclusion of the service.


THE ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS (PARISHES) OF BARBADOS


There are eleven:  Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, Saint Thomas


OBA - FIRST BARBADIAN INDIVIDUAL OLYMPIC MEDALLIST


On Saturday September 23rd, 2000, Obadele Thompson created history for his country by winning an Olympic Bronze Medal in the Men's 100 Metre Final at the 27th Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. In that race United States' Maurice Greene of the United States and Ato Bolden of Trinidad's took Gold and Silver respectively. The official winning times were 9.87 seconds for Maurice Greene, 9.99 seconds for Ato Bolden and 10.04 for the 24 year old Oba. He was the first ever Barbadian to win an Olympic Medal.


Obadele (the name means "the king comes home") landed in Barbados on Thursday October 5th to a hero's welcome and reception. Thousands lined the streets from Grantley Adams International Airport to Government Headquarters on Bay Street. The Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government of Barbados, conferred on him the title of ‘Ambassador and special envoy to the youth of Barbados’ making him the country’s youngest diplomat. 


He also received from Barbados business organisations a silver sports BMW convertible, a $50,000 life insurance policy, $20,000 worth of free travel, accommodation at one of the country’s leading resorts and a plot of land in the prestigious new housing development - Millennium Heights. 


COU-COU or COO-COO


The main ingredients of cou-cou are corn meal and okra (ochro). The corn meal brought to a stiff consistency in a bowl or other container which gives it its shape. It is then turned over on to, say, a plate before it is eaten.  Cou-cou can also be made from breadfruit and green bananas. It is usually served with fish or stews.The dish is also called “fungi” (pronounced “foon-GEE”). “Sweet fungi” emphasizes sugar instead of salt. Coo-coo or fungi is prepared and presented in numerous interesting ways. The national dish of Barbados is flying fish and cou-cou.

Some coo-coo recipes


SEA-EGG


Of  the 17 species of sea urchin (Echinoidea) found in the coastal waters of Barbados, the white sea-egg (Tripnustes Esculentes Lesks) with its spined shell which contains the tasty golden roes is a popular  local delicacy. Divers collect the sea-eggs from the sea floor about 20 feet (six meters) below coastal waters, mostly in the south of the island.  On shore the shells are broken, the roes removed and washed and packed into whole shells. The sea-eggs are then steamed and and then taken to market by hawkers.


There are also black sea eggs. These have long spikes which become embedded in your skin if you step on them, in which case you would have a case of painful "sea egg prickles." Many "cures" are suggested for sea egg prickles, including melted candle grease and lime juice. The result is that black sea-eggs are not usually harvested in Barbados. In Martinique and Guadeloupe, however, they are eaten and enjoyed. 


THE TUK MUSIC OF BARBADOS


Tuk music, taken to Barbados by slaves in the 1600s, is heard today in the Landship Movement and the Crop Over festival. The musical instruments in a tuk band are a tin flute, a kettle drum and a bass drum. Listening to tuk music, one can hear African and even North American elements today. Tourists find it quite fascinating. Tuk music was legally prohibited by the English colonists of Barbados and so did not come into its own until after emancipation. "Tuk" is believed to be derived from the Scottish word "Touk" which meant to beat or sound an instrument.


Barbados Tuk Band Performance


NATIONAL HEROES SQUARE


Barbados now has a National Heroes Square. Known before April 28, 1999 as Trafalgar Square, it is located opposite the Parliament Buildings. Since March 22, 1813 The Lord Nelson Statue, sculpted by Sir Richard Westmacott, dominated the area. It predated by 36 years the statue and square of the same name in London.


The change did not come abruptly, but after much deliberation and debate. First the Nelson statue was turned through 180° so that he no longer looked down Broad Street, the main shopping area. Now he is to be removed entirely when a suitable location is found. One report aptly said that Nelson lost the Battle of Trafalgar Square. The square now celebrates 10 official national heroes.


The law which established the name and uses of the square is the National Heroes Act.


NATIONAL HEROES ACT


In April 1998, the Order of National Heroes Act was passed in the Barbados Parliament. National Heroes Day was celebrated on April 28, the centenary of the birth of Sir Grantley Adams. The National Heroes, each bearing the title the Right Excellent, are:


  Bussa (Born in Africa. Killed in a battle for freedom in Barbados in 1816)

  Sarah Ann Gill (1795-1866)

  Samuel Jackman Prescod (1806-1871)

  Dr. Charles Duncan O’Neal (1879-1936)

  Clement Osbourne Payne (1904-1941)

  Sir Grantley Herbert Adams (1898-1987)

  Rt. Hon. Errol Walton Barrow (1920-1987)

  Sir Hugh Worrell Springer (1913-1994)

  Sir Frank Leslie Walcott (1916-1999)

  Sir Garfield St. Aubyn Sobers (1936-        )



EDDY GRANT AND ICE RECORDS


Eddy Grant, one of the most powerful and controversial men in the Caribbean music business, lives in Barbados. He was born in Guyana. Grant emigrated to England, where he made it big as a reggae artiste rising to as far as No. 2 on the American Billboard charts. He later moved to Barbados where his work has been focused on calypso, soca and record production. He writes music, plays several the instruments, records his songs and those of many others, owns a record plant and does the marketing. His record label is Ice Records.


The studio of Ice Records, located in St. Philip, Barbados,  has produced music for some of the Caribbean's top performers such as Trinidadians SuperBlue, Mighty Sparrow; Calypso Rose and Black stalin as well as  Bajans  Gabby, Grynner and Square One.  Ice Records has also produced recordings for major world performers like Sting and Mick Jagger.  


THE LANDSHIP OF BARBADOS


Have you ever heard of a navy that never goes to sea? Barbados has had one for over 100 years. It's referred to as a landship movement.


It has a fleet, commanded by an Admiral, and modeled after the British Navy. The "crew" dress and undergo training as in a professional navy. They also attend church services and parades with their corps of drums and they use the language of  "Jack Tars."


Their ship is The Club House. It carries the prefix BLS - Barbados Landship.


THE MYSTERIOUS CHASE VAULT


In the cemetery of the parish of Christ Church in Barbados, a vault or crypt was constructed by a wealthy family, the Waldrons. The first interment to take place there was probably that of the body of the Honourable James Elliott in 1724. There was only a tombstone, but no coffin to substantiate this. It was empty in 1807, when Mrs. Thomasina Goddard was buried there in a wooden coffin.


Later the vault was taken over by the Chase family, the head of which was Colonel Thomas Chase. The first Chase buried there was little Mary Anna Maria, age 2, in a leaden coffin in February 1808. The next was Dorcas, Maria's older sister, in July 1812, also in a leaden coffin.


About a month later, Colonel Chase himself died and was placed in a coffin of wood which was then placed in a coffin of lead. When the vault was opened to place his coffin in it, something strange was evident. The leaden coffins previously laid there were disturbed, one of them turned upside down some distance from where it was placed. These were put in order again. And, as usual, the heavy marble slab that served as a door was sealed into place.


Four years later, in September 1816, when the vault was opened again to inter the body of Samuel Brewster Ames, age 11 months, the coffins already there were again found to be violently disturbed. They were put in order once more, and the vault sealed.


When just a month later, on November 17th, the body of Samuel Brewster was to be taken there, there was high interest. Word had gotten around about the mysterious occurrences, and those present were intent on seeing for themselves whether the strange happenings would continue. The Rector of Christ Church, the Reverend Mr. Thomas Orderson, a magistrate, and two other men were there to observe and investigate. The vault was found in chaos again. The men looked for any evidence of forced entry or a hidden passage. They checked for cracks everywhere. However, there was nothing to explain the happenings. The coffins were again restored to order and the door of the vault sealed with mortar.


Who or what could have been responsible for disturbing the caskets in the Chase vault? The people of Barbados discussed every possibility, putting slaves and even the duppies under scrutiny.


The next reopening of the vault took place in July 1819, following the death of Thomasina Clarke. On this occasion, the governor of Barbados, Sir Stapleton Cotton, Viscount Combermere, his aides, the commander of the garrison and several clergymen were present. When the marble door slab was removed, chaos was once more evident. A thorough examination of the entire area was again made. Every aspect was found to be rock solid. Again order was restored. The new body was put in place, and everyone waited while the floor was carefully covered with fine white sand. Diagrams were made of the inside arrangement, the heavy door slab was mortared into place, and the governor made several impressions in the wet mortar with his own seal.


The next opening of the vault took place on April 18th, 1820. The governor and his top aides together with the rector of the parish practically took over. After meticulously examining the externals and checking the impressions of the official seal previously placed there and finding everything in order, the vault was opened. Evidence of violent disturbance again greeted them. Coffins were again seemingly tossed into new locations and positions by some unexplained force. The vault was structurally sound and there was no trace of anyone or anything in the fine sand on the floor.


That was as much as Barbados could take. The bodies were all removed and buried separately elsewhere. The vault remains empty today, in Christ Church. The mystery, which has excited worldwide interest, continues unsolved.


THE HAG


One of the old folk beliefs in Barbados was that there were spirit beings whom they called "hags" (usually planters' wives), who shed their skins at night and traveled in the form of balls of fire in search of blood. If someone were to find the hag's skin and rub it with pepper and salt, the hag could not re-enter the skin and so would die. The last hag in Barbados is believed to have died in the 1920s.


In Guyana, a similar person is called the ol'’ higue.


ASSISTANCE GIVEN TO POOR WHITES IN BARBADOS


The planters, embarrassed to see some of their "kith and kin" poor and almost destitute, made some attempts to better their lot. Among the schools established to help them get a good education were the Haynes Memorial School, Combermere School, the Alleyne School, Harrison's College and Boys' and Girls' Foundation Schools.


At the Young Men's Progressive Club, established in the 1920s, they were able to play cricket, soccer, and indoor games. They could also become involved in several cultural programs including attendance at lectures and participation in debates. Frank Collymore and Therold Barnes, both from poor white families, starting what came to be the oldest literary magazine in the Caribbean, Bim.



MARL HOLES IN BARBADOS


In many locations in Barbados, there are openings or pits in the ground called marl holes. These are small quarries where people have mined or removed coral stone (mainly calcium carbonate) in various stages of hardness.


Coral stone is sometimes removed in blocks and may be used for filling foundations of buildings and also in road building. Soft coral or marl, crushed and now in a powdered or granulated state with shells embedded in them, is often used to level off a piece of land around a house. It is cream-colored to white and renders the land whitish, neat and clean.


People continue to use marl to maintain the appearance of the yard. At Christmastime, when it is desirable to have the yard look special, marl is placed around the house, especially around the front and back doors. It then has that “snowy white” and clean appearance that is regarded as just right for Christmas.


Barbadians who live near the beach would use sand instead of marl to spruce up the yard.

(Thanks to Barbadian architects Mark Hiorns and Michael Lashley for their contributions to this article)



SNOW-ON-THE-MOUNTAIN

Snow-on-the-Mountain,  Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum,' plays a special role in Barbados. Gardeners use this sedum plant as ground cover, but at Christmastime, when its white flowers prevail over the pale green and white variegated leaves, it resembles beautiful white snow. Barbadians then cut the flowers and take them inside as Christmas decorations, often mixed with red poinsettias. The plant grows well everywhere. Seeing it out in the hilly areas, however, one readily understands the name “Snow-on-the-Mountain.”

BARBADOS JOTTINGS